Situated in a county where 1 in 4 kindergartners are overweight or obese (resource: DuPage FORWARD), and 1 in 3 adults are obese (resource: CDC) , the city of West Chicago, lilke many other suburbs, is facing many health concerns associated with these alarming statistics. The community’s answer? The Healthy West Chicago Community Action Plan.
Funded by Cadence Health, WeGo Together for Kids and the United Way of DuPage/West Cook, the Healthy West Chicago Community Action Plan aims to create the means to a path to community wellness through collaboration with established organizations and programs including the City of West Chicago, the West Chicago Park District, the West Chicago Library District, the West Chicago Fire Protection District, West Chicago School District 33, WeGo Together for Kids, Community School District 94, Wheaton Academy, Benjamin Middle School District 25, FORWARD of DuPage County, Cadence Health, Aramark, People Made Visible, the Mexican Cultural Center, the Western DuPage Chamber of Commerce, the United Way DuPage/West Cook, Wheaton Bible Church, Western DuPage Special Recreation Association, the Forest Preserve District of DuPage County, ZCDF, and others, devoted to improving public health. By bringing these well-regarded agencies and nonprofits together at one table, future funding resources and goals related to a menu of strategies will be identified. These strategies may include transportation, food, community development, open space, biking and walking infrastructure, physical education, and broader community action.
“With so many strong partners helping out on this issue, we believe we are on the road to creating a dynamic Community Action Plan that can help improve the health and lives of West Chicago’s residents and workforce,” said West Chicago Mayor Ruben Pineda.
The project launched earlier this year with a community survey, to which more than 580 people responded. The survey collected opinions about what the community should be doing to increase healthy eating and physical activity. The surveys, which were distributed through businesses, at community festivals and through the City’s website, found that while more than 93 percent of respondents felt that increasing healthy eating and physical activity were important, only 28 percent of respondents felt that West Chicago was either “healthy” or “very healthy.”
A series of community forums begun in November and continuing in December will gather more ideas for ways to increase healthy eating and exercising opportunities for people who live and work in the city. These forums target specific sections of the community. For those wishing more information about the forums, please contact Jen Nelson at firstname.lastname@example.org.
November 5 Parent and Teacher Forum at Trinity Preschool
November 11 Parent and Teacher Forum at Wegner Elementary School
December 2 Faith-Based Forum at Wheaton Academy
December 3 Park District Forum at the ARC Center
December 4 WeGo Together 4 Kids Forum at the ARC Center
December 17 Chamber of Commerce Forum at the Water Treatment Plant
December 17 Youth Forum at Community High School
December 30 Senior Citizen Forum at the ARC Center
Oak Park-based Seven Generations Ahead (SGA) is managing the developement of the Healthy West Chicago Community Action Plan. The company was founded in 2001 with a mission of promoting the development of ecologically sustainable and healthy communities. SGA works with local government, community and private sector leaders to help communities make the changes they need to create a healthy and sustainable future. Follow the progress of Healthy West Chicago at www.facebook.com/HealthyWestChicago. To learn more about the work of SGA, visit www.sevengenerationsahead.org.